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Council defends the options put forward in consultation

The council has reaffirmed its commitment to engaging with the Galashiels community over the new school campus following criticism at a recent meeting.

An informal consultation on the proposed location for the new Galashiels Academy campus was launched by Scottish Borders Council (SBC) in March.

The decision was taken to continue with ‘Option 3’ – to build within the existing school boundary and on a portion of Scott Park – despite 72 comments being submitted objecting to the plans.

At this month’s meeting of Galashiels Community Council, the consultation was criticised by member of the public Richard Lees.

“After they looked at all the consultation they received, where 70-odd people were opposed to Option 3 and 20 people approved it, they just decided to go ahead with it anyway,” said Mr Lees. “It just seems like a flawed process.

“The council project that Option 3 was the only viable option but if you look at the actual council report they earnestly say that all five options were viable. I would say it’s a flawed process and it needs more attention.”

A further period of consultation is “currently ongoing”, according to a spokesperson for SBC. A full planning application for the campus will be submitted later in the summer.

Another public consultation will follow to allow members of the community to feedback their views on final plans.

A statutory education consultation, focused on the educational benefits of the campus, will also take place with the aim of gathering feedback from the school community, says the local authority.

On the consultation process so far, the spokesperson added: “The council is committed to engaging with the Galashiels community as plans are developed and finalised for the replacement of Galashiels Academy.

“A decision was made to hold public consultation via an online, interactive website space whilst restrictions were in place to fight the COVID-19 pandemic in the interests of public safety.

“It also allowed us to progress the project despite the uncertainty of the pandemic and keep us on track to meet our deadline of completing the new campus by 2025, which we are required to do as a condition of the funding support committed by the Scottish Government.

“Along with the statutory consultations that the council is required by law to undertake, an additional informal consultation was arranged allowing us to engage with the wider community from the earliest opportunity and gather vital public feedback on a range of potential proposals for the replacement of the existing school. This was widely publicised by the council and in local media.

“In addition to the online consultation space, exhibition boards were also installed at Galashiels Transport Interchange for the duration of the informal consultation.

“The feedback from this initial consultation was ultimately used to inform the council’s decision making as plans for the project were progressed and developed.”

 

Article originally appeared on Border Telegraph.

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